Believe it or not, the dream of a paperless working environment stretches back to the early 1970s. The head of Xerox Corp’s research centre forecast that by 1995 his office would be entirely different and that he’d be able to call up documents including mail and messages from files on the TV-display terminal on his desk.
As I type this up on my tablet while scrolling through messages on my smartphone on the train, the office environment has clearly changed beyond anything that he dreamt of at the time. Yet how close are businesses to operating in a truly paperless environment?
Way back in 2008, YouGov research revealed that UK SMEs were wasting a staggering £42.2 million a day in revenues looking for documents. 80% of managers and directors saying they wasted up to an hour a day looking for documents yet at the time, less than one in four companies had a digital document management system in their office.
It’s difficult to determine how much those numbers have changed but if you look up document management system in Google, there are pages and pages of such companies.
Given the volume of paper involved in the mortgage market following the increase in documentary evidence required by lenders in the post MMR environment, it’s a sector that is crying out for less paper and more e-documents. The IRESS Intermediary Mortgage Survey revealed that 90% of brokers want paperless mortgage transactions, while their clients are increasingly looking to provide and receive information by email and access documents online, yet lenders are well behind when it comes delivering.
True, legacy systems are a major factor for lenders as they work to adapt processes to maximise the benefits that technology can deliver. It’s an issue that also impacts insurers however I think that they have moved faster than lenders given the fact that personal lines insurance such as household has increasingly moved online and more and more commercial business is being traded electronically.
Reducing the paper mountain is something that we at The Source are working towards, not just because of the cost and environmental advantages but more importantly because of the significant benefits it can deliver to our intermediary partners and their clients.
For example, we recently introduced a dedicated policyholder area that allows the customer to access their documents online as soon as the policy is activated. They can view everything from the initial policy summary and wording through to renewal documents as well as any correspondence about mid-term changes and the like all from their desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Documents can’t go missing in the post and as they no longer have to store their documents at home, they don’t have to worry looking for potentially damaged paperwork if the house is severely damaged by flood or fire. And of course, they can’t lose them!
This is just one initiative that we’ve taken to support brokers looking to make their own business as efficient as possible as well as provide their clients with the paperless environment that they want. Hopefully lenders will be working towards a similar goal!